PIAF hails fund raising deal for NJHEP
S AHMED LAHORE—Pakistan Industrial and Traders Associations Front (PIAF) chairman Irfan Iqbal Sheikh has greeted the WAPDA and National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) for entering into a financing agreement of Rs100 billion under public-private partnership through a consortium of 16 banks under Shariah compliant facility for Neelum Jehlum Hydro Electric project delayed for a long time due to lack of finance. He said that two of the major financers including Islamic Development Bank and Saudi Fund for Development had interrupted the supply of funds, amounting to more than $100 million to Pakistan for 969MW NJHP. He said that the promise of Premier Mian Nawaz Sharif with the nation to complete the project in August 2017 apparently not seemed to be honoured, as the PC-1 of said project was changed third-time and the cost of project escalated upto Rs414 billion from initial estimates Rs84 billion at the time of feasibility study.
He said the accumulated progress on NJHP during the last eight years is recorded at 78%, the remaining 22% work to make the dream of the govt true may not seem possible within the shorten stipulated time. The IFIs particularly the Middle Eastern donors expressed their serious reservations and linked the further release of funds with additional conditions including the assurance of in-time completion of project by the government. So far a huge amount of more than Rs180 billion has been spent on the project out of which Rs 39 billion is being generated through Neelum-Jhelum Surcharge imposed on electricity bills but the project is yet incomplete.
Irfan Iqbal Sheikh said that now, with this historic deal a ray of hope appeared for the completion of the project leading to end of power loadshedding being faced by the industry in the country. This is the biggest ever funds mobilization for a public sector entity in the history of Pakistan in which 16 local banks have participated. Achieving this milestone reflects not only investors’ confidence in the Federal government and WAPDA but also indicates the potential of investment that hydropower sector offers in the country.
He expressed gratitude to the government for continuous support in arranging this landmark deal. The issuance of Sukuk worth Rs 100 billion for NJHP would go a long way in arranging funds for other hydropower projects as well to be initiated in the country in near future.